Teresa Lantieri’s excess weight never really bothered her – it’s something she had lived with her entire life – but she always had a sense in the back of her mind that things could, and should be different.
“I never let it get me down, or allowed it to change my personality. My weight was just part of who I was. It was part of my identity. I was Teresa, the ‘fun fat chick’.”
By accepting her reality, Teresa never lacked self-confidence and generally felt comfortable with her situation. “That’s not to say that I didn’t wish I looked different, especially when I went shopping for clothes.”
A new dawn
However, her weight situation kept gnawing away at her. “While I got really good at not seeing the problem and the damage I was doing to my body, one day I woke up with the realisation that I don’t have to live the way I was anymore. I could be healthy and look good and, as a consequence, live a better life. I literally woke up with an epiphany that turned my life upside down, but in the best possible way.”
That same morning following her life-changing revelation, Teresa overhauled the way she approached her diet. “I immediately started tracking my calorie intake. I also packed my gym bag. That was day one of the rest of my life, and day one of the best of my life.”
Zero to hero
Teresa’s new lifestyle started with 30 minutes of cardio at the gym. “I went until I was completely drained. I was so unfit, but I pushed a bit harder every day.” She eventually added weight training to her routine and, before she knew it, she was in the gym for two hours at a time.
Her diet also got an overhaul. It consisted predominantly of fresh, healthy food. “I immediately cut out all processed and refined foods and I continue to eat in this way. However, it has been tracking my calorie intake that has been the key to my success. The solution to my improved health and fitness has been what I choose to put on my plate at each meal.”
Teresa’s typical daily diet plan:
- Breakfast: Boiled eggs or banana pancakes, with a cup of green tea.
- Mid-morning snack: Yoghurt or a fruit, and a cup of green tea.
- Lunch: Lean meat with a variety of veggies and a cup of green tea.
- Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit and a cup of green tea.
- Dinner: Lean meat with a variety of veggies.
- She drinks 4 litres of water and 4 cups of green tea every day.
Teresa continued in this way, on her own, informing herself on the best approach to achieve her objectives. While she has not yet reached her ultimate goal, Teresa managed to lose 45kg in less than nine months.
- Weight before: 115kg
- Weight after: 69kg
- Time taken to lose the weight: 9 months
“While I’ve had wonderful support from my partner, friends and family, and plenty of encouragement from fellow gym goers, I achieved this success on my own. I had no personal trainer, nutritionist or dietician along the way. This process of self discovery has taught me so much and I continue to learn on a daily basis, but I find it very gratifying to know that I can credit myself for my success.”
That’s not to say that it’s been easy, adds Teresa. “I’ve been plagued by self doubt. There were days when I didn’t think I could do it and thought I should give up before I fail.”
“Looking back, I now realise that I was actually scared of succeeding. If I lost the weight then I lost part of my identity. I could no longer hide behind the label I had worn my entire life.”
However, Teresa says she overcame this fear by simply continuing on her journey of reinvention, “The deeper I went and the greater the results, the more confident I became that I would succeed. This helped me overcome my inclination to self-sabotage because I was afraid of change. I have so much more faith in myself now and I’m also stronger, physically, emotionally and mentally. I can deal with life so much better than before.”
And Teresa’s health also changed drastically after she lost the weight. “I don’t get headaches anymore, which used to be a part of everyday life for me before my transformation. Aches and pains that I had just learned to live with are no longer there. I feel fantastic!”
Teresa continues to be motivated by her desire to see how much her body can change and just how far she can go. “This fuels my dedication and discipline, but you need to take that first step to start the process.”
Teresa explains that weight loss is like trying to pull a Boeing 747. “In the beginning it seems an impossible task, but once you get going, momentum takes over and it becomes easier.”
Teresa has since started health and fitness motivation and support groups on Facebook and Instagram, where she posts recipes and weight-loss tips to help others achieve similar success.
“I also hosted a boot camp with a few ladies, and am currently organising fitness weekend retreats for ladies to kickstart their health, fitness and weight-loss journeys.” She’s also a regular Parkrun participant now. “I was never a runner. I actually hated it, but now I look forward to that 5km every weekend.”
Through this process she learnt that she needs to live her life for today and that she needs to put herself first. “I needed to realise that I’m worthy of a healthy body that I can be proud of. I also learned to make time for the things that are important to me, because we can’t be of any use to others if we aren’t of any use to ourselves. Today I’m a better mother, partner and human because of my transformation. I’m no longer the sideline mom – I don’t watch my kids playing outside, I join in! And I’m no longer afraid to try new exciting things. I have a zest for life that I didn’t have before and I want to do as much as I can while I still can. In fact, it has entirely reframed how I look at life – I’m more positive about things, I’m willing to tackle any challenge, and I don’t allow silly things to get me down anymore.”
Teresa’s top 3 transformation tips:
- Bring the effort. Nothing is going to change if you don’t make a concerted effort every day.
- It’s okay to slip up, just don’t dwell on the mistakes or bad choices you make now and then. As long as you pick up where you left off and don’t quit, you’re still making progress.
- Make it a lifestyle, because that’s when the changes you implement become sustainable. Fad diets are not going to give you long-term success. To keep the weight off you need to make life-long changes. You cannot go back to your old ways and expect the weight to stay off.
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Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.